Our Latest Blogs

Weekly blog posts on announcements and latest events

Latest Blog
POSTED ON JULY 31, 2021 BY EWEN DOBBIE

Another Year to Remember

This year marks Dowco’s 51st year in business. Covid and changing market dynamics aside, for me this milestone brings to mind youthful memories of a dedicated father whose work ethic astounded everyone who knew him. I recall countless weekend office trips to pick up drawings, make blue prints, clean the office and perform occasional office renovations.

I recall his nightly home work rituals and my mother’s years as secretary, girl Friday, book-keeper et al. To this day I’m not sure how they managed to coach us soccer, drive us all over the place to various activities, and build a business...

Read More
The Economy of you and your best year ever

Today’s headlines talk about how 2020 may not have been the best year for business.

Yes, times may be challenging, for business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals in the steel and construction business but its important to stay focused on winning our own wars on attitude and grasp that its not the market that determines our success,… its us. To be specific… its our mindset.

Posted on May 6, 2021

People Who Procrastinate Tend To Be Less Healthy, Less Wealthy, and Less Happy

There was a study in 1978 that said 5% of the public thought of themselves as chronic procrastinators. Today it’s 75% and growing. The increase is probably the result of modern day distracters that kill time and squash potential…TV’s in every room, Netflix, web surfing, mobile phones, video games, to name a few of the big ones. At work, it’s constant e-mail and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter only a click away.

Posted on May 6, 2021

When is Enough, Enough?

How does one know when it is time to give up? If you are even asking this question, which I would guess some in the steel detailing services industry are, you are likely in a really painful and desperate place.

This is of course, an individual decision. There is no magic number of unprofitable months or years one must endure. Each person or Company has their own pain threshold. What might be bearable for some, is too much for others.

Posted on April 30, 2021

A Passage To India

“E.M. Forster’s best selling novel “A Passage to India” is a story about misunderstanding, of wrong signals, exaggerated expectations, offences unwittingly caused and taken, and of inevitable disappointment. It is a parable of the complications that arise when eager Anglo-Saxons go travelling to India.” (The Economist). It also describes the experiences of some in the steel industry who have gone before us and failed in their attempts at offshore steel detailing.

Posted on April 22, 2021

From Chaos Comes Order

Derived from Green mythology, chaos typically implies a state of extreme confusion and disorder. Another definition describes chaos as the uncertainty sparked by uncharted territory, economic recession, and bubbles of opportunity.

Depending on your current situation and business outlook, you will relate to one of these definitions more than the other. For many businesses 2020 likely caused immense financial pain as market and global pandemic chaos caused organizations to compress and retreat. There are however, also companies that thrive during chaotic times as we saw with companies that successfully pivoted and ultimately thrived during the pandemic.

Posted on April 7, 2021

The Fast and the Furious

How fast and how willing a company is to change, has a direct influence on their business and financial success.

If you have known Dowco for any length of time, you know that we are willing to change and innovate at a moment’s notice.

We remain excited and enthusiastic processionals striving to be the best at what we do. As a company, constant efforts are undertaken to create both an individual and corporate culture of discipline. The discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best at what we do, and then to seek continual improvement from there.

Posted on March 30, 2021

Discover Tomorrow Today

Alan Kay, the renowned computer scientist, put in memorably some forty years ago: “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”. Few among us though, have the capacity to actually create the future, but what we can do as business owners is identify where the world is heading and prepare our company for tomorrows arrival.

Each Dowco milestone or turning point in our history was first discovered, then shared with the industry. In the 1980’s it was Dowco’s first foray into the world of 2D CAD. The 1990’s saw a jump to 3D modeling with Tekla. In 2008 it was the acquisition of FabTrol Systems Inc ...

Posted on March 23, 2021

Crazy or Smart ... Depends On One’s Point of View

In 1975, Czech artist and animator Jan Svankmajer’s work was suppressed by communists.

Did he have the wrong point of view, or was it the right point of view seen by the wrong people?

Today Jan Svankmajer is a national treasure. Is he now right, and they were wrong, or is he still wrong, and they were right?

It is exactly the same work, but seen from a different point of view, the prevailing one being what the majority think. People are often like sheep following their leader. Its the leader who has a point of view about which way they shall go.

Posted on March 23, 2021

Dowco’s Response To COVID-19

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Building resilience is an important part of growth and change. COVID-19 is driving us into new territory. As the world continues to deal with the repercussions of a pandemic, the Dowco Group of Companies remains committed to playing its part in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff, communities and clients. We are monitoring the situation closely in all regions we operate, and taking appropriate action.

Posted on March 18, 2021

Dowco Capital

Dowco specializes in the preparation of detail drawings for structural steel fabrication and erection, and prides itself as a company made up of people whose priority has been to serve and support the steel fabrication and construction industry.

For nearly five decades, Dowco has led the way in providing specialized services and solutions to the steel and construction industry. From manual structural drafting services in the 70’s, technology innovation in the 1980’s, innovative use of 3D modeling and material listing tools in the 1990’s, MRP (Material Resource Planning), estimating tools and material management software applications in the 2000’s, to IT-and cloud enabled global detailing production operations.

Posted on July 3, 2019

A Global Detailer’s IT-Enabled Multi Office Workflow

For most North American steel detailers, increasing costs to keep service deliverables within customer’s quality expectations has the potential to put them out of business.

Today’s detailer has to deal with incomplete design drawings, impossible schedules, material that is difficult to work with, and declining fees due to the increasing presence of offshore detailing operations. Constant improvement in processes, project controls, and work quality remains the battle cry for modern day detailers. The need to grow operations and infrastructure globally to balance cost structures is undeniable. There is no ‘other’ way for steel detailers to survive in an increasingly competitive and globalized marketplace. The challenge remains: how do detailers compete at such low rates while still providing high quality services that customers demand?

Posted on January 31, 2019

You Get What You Pay For

A thing that can be bought for a very low price probably isn’t very good. – Merriam Webster

I think it’s safe to say this analogy can apply to any product or any service, but it has never been more apparent when referring to steel detailing services.

In a marketplace where an increasing proliferation of foreign detailing companies continues to drive prices for steel detailing services to historic lows, we need to ask the questions: does low price mean better value? Should price be the predominant factor in selecting a detailer subcontractor?

Posted on October 26, 2018

Quality & Constant Improvement

In the steel detailing profession, detailers face many obstacles in producing a perfect product; material that is difficult to work with; poor design drawings; slow and confusing communications; technical issues that slow production, and other obstacles that are often beyond their control. At Dowco, we view each obstacle as an opportunity to learn and grow our collective capabilities so that we can positively influence future projects, leading to customer satisfaction and repeat business. Win, win.

Posted on October 26, 2018

Sanjay Prasad - Vice President of Projects

Dowco Consultants Ltd. is pleased to announce that Sanjay Prasad has been appointed Vice President of Projects. Mr. Prasad joined Dowco Consultants Ltd. as a Structural Steel Detailer in 1987 and subsequently served as a Structural Steel Detailer, Checker, Project Manager, Office Manager, Software Developer, and Trainer. In 1995, he became heavily involved with the customization and development of connection macros for Tekla Structures, and as a result of this early involvement become one of the real power users and Tekla developers worldwide. Sanjay managed Dowco’s largest global office in Canada and most recently has been the Project Lead on several of Dowco’s largest and most significant projects.

Posted on July 14, 2017

The Dowco Detailer Network

No one argues that the steel industry has experienced a global revolution over the last decade. The emergence of 3D modelling software, high-speed internet, rapid development of IT-enabling technologies, communication, collaboration tools, data management, web-conferencing, and a general globalization of the steel supply chain have all created opportunities for enterprising companies located in lower-cost yet technologically competent countries like India. Probably the best example of this has been the proliferation of foreign (mostly Indian) steel detailing companies entering the North American market.

Posted on March 13, 2017

The Global Steel Detailer: Update

Every business has its challenges… and when times get tough, there is no such thing as ‘getting a free pass.’

There will always be uncertainties in the steel detailing business. Today’s detailer has to deal with incomplete design drawings, impossible schedules, and declining fees. This is the new normal. Detailers no longer have the luxury of picking and choosing projects or customers. Success relies on a company’s ability to adapt to market realities and continue to deliver services the market has come to expect: high quality and low cost.

Posted on May 9, 2016

The Dowco Project Portal

A key focus area at Dowco is fast and effective communication with clients on the status of their projects. As a steel detailing services company, Dowco sees itself as a solution to the bottlenecks fabricators typically face. When drawings don’t get delivered on time, fabricators risk having costly equipment and employees sitting idle. Steel detailing contractors who can properly communicate project status, become valuable and trusted suppliers to their fabricator customers.

Understanding the need for up-to-date project information, Dowco has taken the initiative to create a custom-built project status system that tracks and communicates status of projects to clients. The system is called Dowco’s ‘Project Portal’ – you can check out the link on our website!

Posted on April 1, 2016

The Global Steel Detailer

No one disputes that the steel detailing business is experiencing a global revolution. The emergence of high speed Internet, rapid development of IT-enabling technologies; communication, 3D model-centric communication and collaboration, data management, and web-conferencing have all created opportunities for cost-efficient service models for enterprising companies locating strategic service elements in lower-cost but technologically-competent regions.

Demographics show us that in Canada, USA, Asia and much of Europe, populations are aging. We know this only too well, as the demand for experienced steel detailers in North America increases. This shortage, combined with the fact that there are very few technical schools offering structural drafting/detailing as part of their curriculum, presents a problem for the North American steel fabricators, steel detailing companies, and the steel construction industry.

Posted on February 23, 2016

Panzura – Solutions For Multi-User Workflow and Multi-Site Organizations

There is no debating that the AEC industry in Canada has contributed much to the success of our country’s economy. For the last four decades, The Dowco Group, alongside thousands of other AEC organizations have steadfastly grown operations despite having to adapt to a myriad of technology changes, increasing globalization forces, and a general downward price pressure for products and services.

Posted on January 8, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Pre-detailing

The last decade of industry pioneer, Hugh Dobbie Sr’s active business career saw him work tenaciously to facilitate what has now become an increasing trend; Steel detailing services providers working directly with, and/or, for the engineer rather than following the more traditional historical contractor relationship, the steel fabricator.

Posted on November 3, 2014

So what do we do next?

There is ample evidence suggesting the North American economy is improving. For those in the steel industry, you either anticipate or are experiencing an increasing work backlog for the first time in years.

According to Gargau’s ‘Steel Market Update’, Industrial Construction Starts “are accelerating at a torrid pace”, up 65%, over the last three months compared to the same period last year and 22% over the past 12 months. The Non-Residential Construction Producer Price Index also shows a general 1% price inflation over the past 12 months and 2.2% over two years.

Posted on October 2, 2014

AISC Awards One World Trade Center Project Team Members Highest Award In Steel Construction

Last Wednesday September the 17th, Ewen Dobbie, Dowco Group CEO, attended an award ceremony held by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) at the One World Trade Center (1 WTC) in New York city. WSP Structural Engineers entered the 1 WTC project in the AISC IDEAS2 Awards competition for excellence in steel-frame building Design. Considered the highest award given for building projects in the U.S. structural steel industry, the Dowco Group was among the project team members that received the IDEAS2 Award’s Presidential Award of Excellence for Engineering for being a part of the 1 WTC project.

Posted on September 24, 2014

Are We There Yet?

I think it's safe to say that several years ago we were pretty happy and were all making money. Our industry was in the midst of arguably one of steel's greatest bull markets in decades. Here we are years later and most experts are saying that the market had fallen even further than predicted. It is difficult to hide from news that informs us of layoffs, cutbacks and economic stress.

Despite this, I believe we needn't follow the prevailing grim attitude. It is an established truth that the economy fluctuates. And these fluctuations move in cycles, or periods of rapid economic growth and periods of decline.

Posted on September 15, 2014

Limitations and Technology

Famous Architect Frank Lloyd Wright claimed the human race built most nobly when limitations were greatest, and when most was required of imagination in order to build. Companies that take initiative, bold and creative steps are companies that can see, project and predict themselves into the future. Whether it’s an investment in new software technology, equipment, or whether it’s incorporating another level of service or product, we need imagination in order to grow.

“A soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”

Posted on September 9, 2014

The New Organizer: How To Get Real Time Data From Your Project

With Tekla Structures 20.0, a new feature called Organizer was added to all configurations. Organizer is a daily tool for managing model information, object property queries, and object classification. Organizer provides access to all model information in one place for effective management of model information. Organizer is always up-to-date as it synchronizes with the model. Instant feedback on the model can be used to create Excel reports on demand.

Posted on August 21, 2014

Are we Really Doing our Best?

Good times or bad, some things never change. For any company to succeed and grow, they must be brutally honest with themselves. That means taking regular looks in the mirror and asking those tough questions: Are we really as good as we think we are? Could we be delivering a better product or service?

For the most part, most will say they are above average and get better than passing grades. They will also agree that there may still some room for improvement.

Posted on July 21, 2014

The Variables To Productivity

With the increasing use and application of technology, productivity has increased. However, a divergence between the higher skilled and lower skilled workers is emerging. Technology can increase productivity and profitability, but it requires parallel innovation in business models, processes, and skills. Too often, companies invest in the technology but neglect the very important step of developing human capital and fail to re-examine and improve their business and organization processes.

Posted on July 11, 2014

Innovation and Differentiation

The Industry and the marketplace is indeed tough and ever changing. I like to think what makes us different and unique, as a company is our ability to recognize and focus on the critical needs of 'today' while also focusing on positioning the company for 'tomorrow'.

Today, we watch costs; streamline our operations while delivering a quality product to our customers. We do this by focusing on planning and project workflows, and continuing to ask the question, "Is there software or technologies we should be implementing that would enable us to deliver a better product"?

Posted on July 4, 2014

Adapt To Survive

Some argue that steel detailing in North America is an industry in decline. For years, people have been concerned about the increasing shortage of steel detailers in North America and with the now flattening of the world, the North American steel detailing industry is having to deal with the emergence of foreign competition.

Posted on July 2, 2014